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Fifty Shades of Grey: An Erotic Tale Gone Viral

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Christian Grey, is everything a woman could want...blonde, beautiful, rich and exceptionally charismatic...but he also has a sinister side. Fifty Shades of Grey is an erotic tale which follows the dangerous relationship between a 27-year-old billionaire, Christian Grey and a quiet 21-year-old college student, Anastasia Steele. These two characters quickly become involved in a dominant-submissive relationship; which changes both of them in ways that neither of them could have imagined, taking their relationship to a deeper, more intense level.

Sounds like another cheesy erotic romance novel, doesn't it? Who would have thought that a story like this would become the international phenomenon that it has.

E.L. James had originally written this story as fan fiction on the Web site FanFiction.net, releasing it chapter-by-chapter. Her erotic work quickly became popular among women, mostly through word of mouth.

As the popularity of her work grew, it eventually caught the attention of The Writers Coffeehouse, an independent publishing house in Australia that specialized in publishing romance fiction of up-and-coming authors. In May 2011, the Australian publisher released hard copies of James's books Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.

Now, less than a year later, Vintage Anchor Books in New York has obtained the publishing rights to the books from Coffeehouse for, according to The New York Times, a reported "seven-figure sum." Vintage Books, in collaboration with The Writer's Coffeehouse, has been working to re-release the erotic trilogy to the public.

Vintage has already released the series on eBooks as of March 12, and in early April the trade paperback editions of the books will be available from Vintage worldwide

Fifty's author E.L. James, via press materials, is thrilled that Vintage has released her books. "I've heard from so many readers trying to find these books in their local bookshops and libraries. It is gratifying to know that they will soon become widely available in the U.S. and around the world."

Despite being dubbed by media outlets as "mommy porn," James's series continues to grow in popularity, selling more than 250,000 copies in eBooks and paperback editions, making it one of the NYT best-sellers. The series' popularity has also caught the attention of Hollywood movie studios, who've recently battled it out in a bidding war over the movie rights. Sony had originally showed its interest in buying the series before Universal and Focus Features finally won the rights for a reported $5 million deal. The studios plan on transferring the successful series to the big screen -- following the book-series to-film trend we've been seeing in recent years.

But James, who referred to herself to Entertainment Weekly as a "control freak," wanted to make sure that her work was not destroyed, and Focus Features has apparently granted James the right to approve the script and casting.

Now the question is how they will tone down this extremely graphic X-rated book and make it into an appropriate R-rated film without straying too far from the story. "I think that's going to be a collaborative process," James stated to Entertainment Weekly. "That's a big word in Hollywood, isn't it -- PRO-cess."

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